SYCAMORE – Caroline Krecic remembers calling Kathy Stelford years ago to find out how she should help a goose she accidentally hurt with her car.
Krecic, of Somonauk, remembers being impressed with Stelford's care and attention to detail. Now, she's helping Stelford, who founded Oaken Acres Wildlife Center in Sycamore in 1984, extend that level of care to eagles by being a major donor for a specialized eagle cage.
"Since we are seeing [eagles] in DeKalb County, if anything happens to them they have a closer place to come for healing," Krecic said.
Christy Gebritz, Oaken Acres director of operations, said crews plan to start excavation for the large enclosure Sept. 1 so it can be ready before winter. She is gathering bids on material and labor, and making sure the grounds are prepared at the site by clearing brush and trees.
Although more than $40,000 has been raised for the project - well above the original $30,000 goal - Oaken Acres leaders are always accepting donation for the nonprofit group and unforeseen expenses, said Stelford, who also serves as Oaken Acres' president.
"We had to change the location for the cage, because there was too much slope in the ground," Stelford said. "Tree removal expenses is something we weren't counting on."
Stelford said funds are needed for the interior of the building, as well. The building will still be used if no eagles are there because leaders can partition the massive structure into sections suitable for other animals. An eagle cage must be at least 100 feet long, 24 feet wide and 16 feet high, Stelford said.
Gebritz said it's an important project, as eagles are making a comeback in the DeKalb County area after nearly becoming extinct. About two years ago, an eagle found injured in Kirkland had to be sent to a center near Rockford because Oaken Acres had neither the required building or permit to house it, Stelford said. They'll apply for a permit after the eagle structure is finished.
"They're a spectacular bird, they're our national symbol," Gebritz said. "We take pride that we can help these animals."
For more information
Oaken Acres Wildlife Center
12140 Aldrich Road, Sycamore